Tag Archives: home renovation

Bite Me

15 Aug

Image courtesy of Bedbugger.com

My family has the adult equivalent of cooties: bedbugs.

No two ways about it. Confirmed by two different “bedbug experts.”

How did we get them? Who knows. Possibly through my travel or from a patient of my husband’s. We’re not dirty people, but there’s nothing like bedbugs to make you feel downright gross. It’s an instant source of shame. So pleasant to let your friends and family know about your newest guests, and how they can identify them under their own mattresses, behind pictures and electrical outlets, etc., etc.

Do many people get them? Yes, they do. We are not alone. I found a cheeky site called the Bed Bug Hub, hosted by the National Pest Management Association, reporting that:

Bed bugs are THE most difficult pest to treat, according to 76 percent of survey respondents, more so than cockroaches, ants and termites. As for where infestations occur, residences top the list with 89 percent of pest professionals treating bed bug infestations in apartments/condos and 88 percent treating bed bug infestations in single-family homes. Respondents also report other common areas, with 67 percent treating bed bug infestations in hotels/motels, 35 percent in college dormitories, 9 percent on various modes of transportation, 5 percent in laundry facilities, and 4 percent in movie theatres.

Did you read that? Why yes, it’s entirely possible that we got them from a movie theatre. But most likely, from my travel and overnights in hotels.

And, not surprisingly:

[T]he emotional and mental toll of experiencing a bed bug infestation can be severe and should not be taken lightly. Survey respondents report that 99% of clients who have had bed bugs were “upset and concerned” and 77% said such customers were “very upset and concerned.”

No doubt. Believe it. This is no fun. I think that I am better at imagining things are okay than my husband is. He hasn’t slept for nights. It’s not the bugs bugging him. We’ve only found a handful of them, truth be told. We are not in the “infestation” category by any means. But the worst thing about it is thinking about all of the potential consequences if left untreated. And the reason they’ve become more prevalent is because a lot of people cannot afford to treat them so just leave them be.

It’s the thought of the bugs, including where they are now and where they will be hiding tomorrow, underneath or behind something where we cannot see them.

And it’s the reactions of people once they find out that you have them. Many make the assumption that it has something to do with your hygiene…that it’s in some way YOUR fault. The truth is that bedbugs don’t discriminate: They like everyone’s blood, whether clean or dirty. They only come out at night, and what attracts them is warm-blooded people. The suckers are miniature, diabolical vampires.

Because of all this we are taking DRASTIC measures. Yes, I do mean DRASTIC. They must and will die. We are paying $3,200 for a combined heat and chemical treatment conducted by a professional exterminator. Here’s what they do:

  • Heat up each area of the house to a sustained temperature of 120 degrees. This will kill most of them.
  • Apply pesticides that kill the remaining bugs, including any eggs. (Did you know that they can lie dormant for 18 months? Just think of it…)
  • And then, we wait to see if they reappear. Because they are also killed by temperatures below 23 degrees, we are seriously considering a safety net treatment of our own in the winter, which will begin with us draining out our pipes, opening the windows, and leaving the house for a day.

Here’s what WE have to do before the exterminators begin their work:

  • Throw out and/or move out a bunch of stuff. Not because it has bedbugs, but because there’s a combined supply of an extra house’s worth of furniture and all-around stuff in the basement of our house, which we recently bought from my in-laws and where my nephew lived for a couple of years. As of this moment, my front yard is channeling the theme song from “Sanford and Son.” It’s full of items for the dumpster, which will arrive tomorrow. (More about my neighbors’ reaction to this in a minute.)
  • Wash everything–clothes, linens, furniture covers, anything fabric. Put it into sealed plastic bags. If it’s clothing that cannot be washed, dry it for 20 minutes at the highest possible heat. I even washed balls of yarn that I haven’t yet used for knitting.
  • Everything we wear out of the house at this point comes from a sealed plastic bag that ensures the clothing is bedbug-free. Everything. I cannot reinforce how much of a pain this is.
  • Vacuum everything, everywhere. Put bedbug covers on the beds. Do some spot treatments in the rooms where we’ve seen the bugs.
  • Repeat everything above as many times as necessary until it’s time for the exterminators.
  • Move all furniture away from the walls in every room and pray that our veneered furniture survives 120 degrees.

While the exterminators do their work, we get to go on a special bedbug vacation! Translation: We rent an affordable somewhat nice nearby hotel for two nights because we have to be away for that long. And we cancel our camping trip to Kelley’s Island, because instead we’ll be here doing post-exterminator cleanup.

So, this is going to be a $3,500 proposition all told.  Cha-ching.

The significant effed-upness of this was on my mind today when my husband told me that neighbors had called our area commission to complain about the furniture in our front yard. Bite me. We spent all day on Sunday getting it out there and the dumpster is coming tomorrow.

Our biggest mistake was our honesty in letting people know (and putting signs on the stuff) that NO ONE SHOULD TAKE IT because of the bedbugs. I’m convinced that this is the reason for the hulabaloo. How many people in our sort of upscale Columbus neighborhood have had bedbugs and not told their neighbors? I’m guessing more than a few.

And then we have the other side of the continuum. What percentage of the population will take furniture that possibly has bedbugs? From my personal estimation, a significant and disturbingly large number of not so discriminating fellows (all men, it’s true). In one situation, a man took a table that he was going to give to his daughter. Two hours later, I noticed that he’d brought the table back. Smart daughter!

There were probably 20 people who took furniture from the yard yesterday, even though it was clearly marked and we verbally warned them. And when I went out to the car this morning, at least a few people had gone through the piles and taken even more. I have to say that I was pretty shocked. Clearly, not enough people have been through this to know the real deal of bedbug removal. It ain’t pretty.

People don’t listen, and they don’t want to. They do not take this seriously. I’ve got spraypaint all over much of the furniture and on all of the trash bags with clothes and fabric stuff. And now we have some schmuck calling us to complain about our irresponsibility?

Bite me. Better yet, bedbug bite me.

We did talk with someone from the Columbus Health Department earlier today (after a very unhelpful call with them last week when they referred us to their website), and while at least this time they were available, they actually suggested that we have the furniture destroyed. My husband asked if a bonfire would work. I don’t think this is what they had in mind. Then on second thought, they said that what we’d done in terms of marking the furniture would do the trick. I’m glad we did the right thing, as embarrassing as it has been.

If I were not a nice person, I would wish the curse of these bedbugs on the person who called the commission. I guess it’s just one of those situations where you try to do the right thing and you just can’t please everyone all of the time.

I told a friend tonight that I’m going to install my 74-year-old father from SE Ohio on the front lawn. He will in no uncertain terms and with a highly unpleasant attitude tell nosy and judgmental neighbors to mind their own bedbugging business. In less polite words than that.

In closing, bedbugs suck: Blood, money and time.

Know the signs and do whatever you can to avoid getting them.

Ode to a Half-Bath

29 Mar

I wanted to share the before and after shots of our half-bath at the new house. The after’s still not completely finished. Still some details. But you can see the new paint, mirror, plug, sink and cabinet.

Before: Old Hollywood + 1970s.

AFTER: Bead board, new sink and mirrored cabinet, yellow paint.

Flooring

14 Feb

Today I spent more time spackling and sanding, here:

The Teenage Suite

Since that’s fairly boring, I thought I’d post some photos of the some of the floors at the new house.

First Floor Full Bath Tile

Entryway bi-color wood floors

Dining room two-way wood floors

Second floor master bath tile.

Greensleeves, Anyone?

14 Feb

I thought I’d post this photo of the chandelier in my in-laws’ house. This was custom-ordered by my father-in-law. It is an awesome piece of metal and glass, but it’s a bit heavy for our taste.

My husband went to Columbus Alternative High School, where many of his friends were involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism. I can see many of these friends in pre-17th century garb dancing below this chandelier, with “Greensleeves” as the soundtrack.

We have been consulting with family members to determine who will get this when we take it down and install a lighter replacement. I believe that we’ve found the one who will truly appreciate and care for this piece in perpetuity, but we need to confirm the transfer of goods with my father-in-law first.

We’ll follow the journey of this chandelier, from its removal and replacement to a posting of the piece with its new owner. Stay tuned!

Today in Joint Compound

7 Feb

I spent most of the afternoon at the Ingham house, pulling out nails, screws and anchors from the master bedroom, then starting to patch holes and prepare for painting.

This was after my “warm-up” day yesterday. I spent much of the three hours then just walking from room to room and assessing what all needed to be done, feeling pretty overwhelmed. Decided at the end of that extremely unproductive time that I should probably just stay put in one room and not leave it until it’s finished. That’s what I did today, and it worked.

There’s always a pregnant pause when you pull out a deeply embedded piece of metal from a plaster wall. Plaster makes a crumbling, coming-apart noise that is not so comforting. I had some worries about a wall just disintegrating like a mummy that’s been left in the pyramid too long.

While hoping that the plaster would splinter off less often, I thought: Wow, my in-laws hung up a lot of stuff in their bedroom. I guess you don’t think about that until you have to prep for painting. How many of these screws and nails should I leave up, for the stuff my daughter will want to hang? I left about 1/4 of them in.

Then, it was time to spackle. This time I used the joint compound provided by my husband. Much wetter than the marshmallowy stuff I’m more used to. I followed all of the directions, letting it dry enough and anticipating shrinkage, before reapplying a second coating.

Realized several hours later that I have a big stripe of joint compound on my parka. Nice.

Next weekend: Sanding, and more joint compound in the hallway and office.

The Big Project Plan in the Sky

31 Jan

This weekend’s focus:

Inventorying and planning out all activity to be accomplished to stage move-in to new house and sale of current house.

Pretty overwhelming. I laid it out room by room. Currently, the plan has over 100 tasks, spans two years and basically has us working on my in-laws’ house every weekend until May, plus all week during spring break.

Ben and I have tasks–and so do the kids. I am an extremely good painter and am kind of looking forward to it, even though I know I’ll be sick of it after several rooms.

What I am not is a good spackler. I need to take some remedial spackling training. The last time I spackled something, it took Ben a day to sand it back to flat. Oeuf. I’ll be studying up because we really need to divide and conquer with our tasks, and I need to deliver in this department. Stay tuned for some mistakes–it’s inevitable. I’ll be working with plaster.

The tentative plan is to move on Memorial Day Weekend. By then, we will (hopefully) have all of the bedrooms in the C-ville house painted, plus hopefully the living room and dining room. The family room and kitchen can wait.

Then, after our move to C-ville, we will paint every room in the Bexley house white again and get it ready to go on the market.

I need to take some before pics at both places and will soon post so that I can document our progress. It’s going to be a long next few months!

Our Home Makeover Adventure

13 Jan

My husband and I have decided to begin the process of buying his parents’ house in Beechwold, north of Clintonville.  We are very excited about the possibilities. This is the home where he and his four sisters grew up and where he and I were married. Safe assumption that there’s significant sentimental value rolled into it.

Benefits:

  • Beautiful hardwood floors and woodwork
  • Slate roof
  • Overlooks a gorgeous ravine
  • Skylights
  • Lots of space — at least double our current square footage
  • Lots of good memories
  • Chance to carry on the family legacy in the homestead

Challenges:

  • How to reconcile the 1920s “old” part of the house with the 1970s era “new” part of the house? The styles happen to be ones I like, but they are not easily interwoven. There’s a definite shift in mood from one part of the house to the next…making it somewhat bipolar.
  • What if we change something that has particular (perhaps unknown) significance for a family member? There are aspects to the house that have been embedded in memories. We are being cautious here, but we want to make it our own home and are mindful of that, too.
  • Walls covered with a mixture of cork and wood paneling. Very brown, very dark. This is an aspect of 1970s interior design that we just cannot embrace. Like the color orange in carpets and couches, this was a trend that should never, ever return. Let’s hope. Our difficulty is we may not have enough money to put up anything else. Wonder what it would look like if we painted it all…
  • 4-foot-wide gothic chandelier that weighs as much as an anchor. This was custom-ordered by my father-in-law for the space. I remember when this variety of fixture was popular. A place my parents liked to dine called the Cork ‘n Cleaver had this type of interior feature. Just begging for lively Renaissance fair action occurring underneath, with “Greensleeves” as the soundtrack. Not really our style.
  • Buckling Pergo floor that needs replaced, but may have to wait until we have the funds to do it right.
  • The door to nowhere: One second-story bedroom has a door that used to open onto a back porch, but when the addition was built it took the old back porch’s footprint. So this door no longer has a purpose, but it remains in the bedroom. If opened, a person would step off the cliff and fall one story into the great room. It’s an interesting view from the great room, too…just hanging out halfway up the wall. Eventually, a spiral staircase to connect the too floors from the back of the old house into the great room is the logical way to go. Again, cha-ching.
  • Kids think the house is a bit spooky. This can be traced back to the chandelier, cork and wood paneling, and the fact that my husband and sisters-in-law have told them stories about the house being haunted.

Just for extra fun, not in the benefit or challenge category: Rumor has it that there was a still in the basement soon after the house was built, which was during Prohibition. Makes for added interest.

What issues will we have the time and funds to resolve prior to move-in? We have no idea, but it sure will make for some interesting stories along the way. We are thinking about blogging about the process, so watch for more info as details unfold. This will be a home makeover adventure!